Election 2016: Russian Hackers Or Insider Leak?

According to NPR, Washington is in turmoil over accusations of Russian hackers influencing the presidential election.

“The CIA has concluded that Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election to help Donald Trump win. But Trump says he doesn’t believe that. And the FBI doesn’t think there’s enough evidence.”

Although top-level officials from the DNC have repeatedly blamed Russian hackers for the email leaks, there has been no proof so far to support their claims. Despite WikiLeaks decade-long record of unblemished source accuracy, the chair of the DNC, Donna Brazile, even repeatedly accused Russian hackers of falsifying the leaked documents, but has yet to point to any specific evidence of this.

President-elect Donald Trump arrives to speak to supporters during a rally, in Grand Rapids, Michigan
[Image by Paul Sancya/AP Images File]

On Friday however, in a bit of an ironic twist, a CIA official anonymously confirmed that there was interference in the U.S. presidential election by a foreign country. In a bombshell report, the Washington Post claimed that the CIA had reached a definitive conclusion regarding the source of the email leaks that plagued the Democratic party this year. According to an unnamed source with knowledge of the secret assessment, it was Russian hackers who had taken action against the Democrats in a bid to help elect Donald Trump.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

No new evidence was cited to confirm that Russian hackers were indeed behind the leak, and the identify of the official who made this claim remains unknown.

However, in a statement to The Guardian, Craig Murray, an associate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the former U.K. ambassador to Uzbekistan, claimed that the CIA was lying about Russian hackers interfering with the election.

“I know who leaked them. I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.”

Outgoing Senate minority leader Harry Reid added to the speculation in an interview with The Huffington Post, claiming that not only were the Russian hackers real, but Donald Trump had colluded with them.

“Someone in the Trump campaign organization was in on the deal. I have no doubt. Now, whether they told [Trump] or not, I don’t know. I assume they did. But there is no question about that. So there is collusion there, clearly.”

When notified that the CIA had claimed Russian hackers had assisted the Trump campaign, a spokesperson for Donald Trump issued a statement denying the validity of the charges.

“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”

The White House also responded to the accusation on Friday. White House spokesperson Eric Schultz announced that President Obama had ordered a full U.S. intelligence review of the alleged role that Russian hackers played in the 2016 election.

The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald also weighed in on the matter, arguing that unnamed sources were no substitute for evidence.

The Washington Post late Friday night published an explosive story that, in many ways, is classic American journalism of the worst sort: The key claims are based exclusively on the unverified assertions of anonymous officials, who in turn are disseminating their own claims about what the CIA purportedly believes, all based on evidence that remains completely secret.”

In an interview for Dartmouth Films in early November, Assange himself denied that Russian hackers were the source of the leaked emails.

“The Clinton camp has been able to project a neo-McCarthyist hysteria that Russia is responsible for everything. Hillary Clinton has stated multiple times, falsely, that 17 U.S. intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. That’s false — we can say that the Russian government is not the source.”

Clinton ignores allegations of election rigging
[Image by Bastiaan Slabbers/iStock]

Interestingly, the allegations of possible general election interference from Russian hackers first began in July, immediately after the conclusion of the hotly-contested primary election that saw supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders ridiculed in the media for questioning the results of multiple primary races riddled with irregularities.

Despite an abundance of evidence that some primary races may have been manipulated in favor of Hillary Clinton, allegations of election manipulation were largely ignored by the media and the DNC. However, the email leaks proved that DNC officials had been actively working against Sanders, and the scandal resulted in several high-level DNC officials being forced to step down. The candidate herself was never held accountable however, and after being nominated, Clinton went on to lose the Electoral College vote to Donald Trump.

[Featured Image by BeeBright/iStock]